But despite the fact that only about 15% of Americans point to The Deficit as their primary worry (most sane people declaring that the real national emergency is unemployment) Obama never wastes an opportunity to proclaim that the American People have given him a mandate to cut and grow, slash and invest, whip and woo. He likes to call it the Balanced Approach. I prefer to call it schizophrenia. How do you impose austerity and grow the economy? Paul Krugman writes himself hoarse trying to explain Keynesian economics, while Obama talks himself hoarse insisting that we need to tighten our belts now so that someday in the far-distant future, we can reach The Promised Land of American Feel-Goodism.
The truth is that Obama doesn't care about cutting the deficit any more than Republicans do. Otherwise, he'd be talking up the Public Option Deficit Reduction Act just introduced in the House. Government competition with the health insurance industry would actually reduce the deficit by $100 billion over a decade, say the bill's Democratic sponsors.
Forget about it. Obama would rather spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money for his mawkish "Get Out the Premiums!" campaign designed to sign up hordes of new customers for the profit-bloated insurance maggots to feed upon. He is actually using a former campaign operative and White House PR person to head up the effort, called "Enroll America."
It will be Anne Filipic's job to literally and figuratively go door-to-door in search of millions of uninsured people, convincing them to buy private insurance policies. In a puff piece published today in The Washington Post, she strongly implies that she will use the massive Obama for America database to pick and choose among potential new customers. So, in case you've been wondering how the campaign would use that much-coveted treasure trove of private information -- well, this is apparently it.
And Filipic is blunt about her main goal being that of burnishing Obama's image by selling private insurance to the masses:
I truly believe there’s nothing more important for the president’s legacy than the number of people this law impacts. What is so exciting is how we can apply other tools, from electoral campaigns and the private sector, to increase the reach.... What I envision first is a lot of data and analytics, using a lot of the microtargetting that has taken off in recent years. there’s some potential to do what electoral campaigns do: Find people who wouldn’t be motivated to take action and inspire them in a way that they do. I think in terms of really building a list of the uninsured across the country. If we know where people live, there’s a real ability to have one-on-one conversations. We’ll be doing a lot of what the private sector does, and what a lot of recent electoral campaigns have done in figuring out how do you build that list and then how do you communicate with those people.Filipic said she would not be surprised if the same vast resources that propelled Obama into a second term would be matched by the Sign Up America effort. Since it was a billion-dollar re-election campaign, you have to wonder just how expensive this latest marketing campaign will be. All we're being told is "multi-millions."
Obama is a shill for the corporate mawks. He just talks the fiscal restraint talk. The true cost of implementing ObamaCare is yet to be calculated. Yet, hiding in plain sight, staring him right in the face, is a bill that would reduce the deficit by $100 billion. Beginning right away. But it's being ignored, because it doesn't put profits over people.
And the profits keep rolling in. The insurance companies are drooling in anticipation of Sign Up America, raising their premiums in some states by double-digit percentages thanks to a convenient loophole in the Affordable Care Act. Corporate TV outlets are drooling in anticipation as well, since the Sign Up America campaign also plans a deluge of mawkish TV commercials. One planned spot involves a mother convincing her 20-something son to buy a policy, because it's the economically patriotic thing to do.
Meanwhile, health care spending growth itself is flattening out. It has nothing to do with people living healthier lifestyles and everything to do with them not being able to afford insurance co-pays, deductibles and pricey doctor visits.
Oh, and we're getting sicker and dying sooner than our counterparts in all other advanced countries. So get out your thin wallets, America, and Sign the Hell Up. The mawks need their meat.
*Update: Please see the comments for Denis Neville's excellent research/reporting on Enroll America. It is even worse than I thought. The already-blurred line between public assets and interests and private profits has pretty much been erased with this initiative. If you were among the millions of people who visited the Obama campaign website this past year or so, and thus were swept up in its secretive database, with such information as your age, medical history, current health status, assets, career history, internet search history, buying habits -- it appears likely that your private info will be shared with the insurance companies as they shill their overpriced and probably shoddy product with the added financial help of the same taxpayers they are already victimizing. If this is the case, I hope some class action lawsuits are filed on behalf of the American people against the government for such a gross violation of their privacy.